Wellview + WorldatWork Interview with James Story, CEO and Co-Founder of Wellview

August 2, 2021
Thought Leadership
Wellview + WorldatWork Interview with James Story, CEO and co-founder of Wellview

James Story, CEO and Co-Founder of Wellview, was interviewed by Dr. Scott Cawood, CEO of WorldatWork, to discuss how Wellview engages members in proactive care. James Story stated that Wellview offers a unique combination of technology and human experiences to make sure that care is both easy to access and the highest quality possible.

These dual focuses have led to Wellview’s impressive 99% satisfaction rate and 10% reduction in employer healthcare spending by increasing the extent to which people receive preventive care and continue to remain involved in health programs.

Story touched on employees’ need for a different definition of wellness that's broader and encompasses all aspects of their health. At Wellview, we believe that removing barriers is key to helping people take better care of themselves and part of this is providing resources, digital interactions, and in-person experiences that mean users can access healthcare when and how it is most convenient for them.

Over time, Wellview has integrated all aspects of healthcare by providing resources and providers across various medical disciplines. James Story shared that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for the industry in terms of humanizing healthcare and emphasizing its role in everyone’s life. The conversation wrapped up with James Story and Scott Cawood agreeing that the health system must look beyond their view of patients and consider the lives and beliefs of the people they treat.

Watch the interview here or read the complete transcript below:

CAWOOD: James, thank you very much for being here, looking forward to our chat. I do have a few questions if I can sling them your way. As Wellview’s co-founder, what led you and your team to develop this digital wraparound approach to well-being, and what impact has it made on workplace well-being so far?

STORY:  When we looked at the industry problem of only 8% of the US population getting proactive care, we really said – why? Why is it that people aren’t engaging in a proactive care resource when insurance companies are paying for it and your employers are paying for it and it’s basically free services. We believe that there were too many barriers. We’ve treated healthcare as a reactive care system, and so people aren’t going to go into the system if it has a lot of barriers.

So at Wellview, we developed this neat interplay of tech and human experiences to create this special, new front door access point for care. It’s really been fascinating for us, not only can you create this great satisfaction by the users at 99% here at Wellview, but we’re also able to engage a larger population at the employer level, more than 40%. That results in sustainable care, saving employers more than 10% a year.

CAWOOD: I like to think about that entire ecosystem and of how that could impact a lot of different parts of the healthcare system, especially the patients. Now James, from a people-care perspective, can you talk to us a little about what does well-being mean? Maybe for employees, especially right now, given all that has happened in the world.

STORY: Yeah if I think back in history, well-being used to be “How do we do wellness challenges or walking challenges, or how do we solve for diabetes?” and we all had our own view of what well-being is. I think on the back end of COVID, what we’re finding is that well-being is actually more holistic care, and it’s a very different definition than what we’ve looked at in the past. It includes things like mental health, physical health, your environment, your family dynamics.

And with this remote workforce, I think we’re seeing employees actually have a higher demand or need for a broader definition of overall well-being, and how they take care of themselves in this different work-life balance environment that we’re living in today versus the past.

CAWOOD: James, one aspect I really liked about Wellview was this fundamental goal to help people take better care of themselves. Could you make that direct connection for us right now regarding what features of Wellview’s approach as you look at this, and how does that contribute directly to employee engagement, and also people participating more and taking care of themselves?

STORY: Healthcare has historically been a reactive model. My co-founder and chief medical officer says people need help taking care of themselves, and when they show up in the doctor’s office, it’s already a problem. So we believe, to help people take better care of themselves, it’s all about removing barriers. It’s all about not what we can see in a clinical setting or from a claims setting, but what we can’t see that’s driving the behaviors associated with what we can see in the future.

It’s the lead measures that create these lag results that we start to act on or react to in the future, so for us, creating this unique journey for the end user that integrates the right mix of technology encounters -- digital health encounters -- but also human encounters. Ultimately, setting the patient or member or employee in the driver's seat of their own care, focusing on serving up solutions, tools, resources, care providers, and experts associated with what they’re interested in, not what the system says they should be interested in.

CAWOOD: I’m curious what kind of obstacles you’ve gotten into and Wellview has faced along the way so far.

STORY: We started the business thinking our number one job was to earn the trust of the in-healthcare consumer. What we didn’t think about is how some of the market has been trained about products and services and, in fact, if you think about the market’s buying behaviors, especially in the employer space, it’s been “Oh we identified diabetes as a problem, we’re going to find a points solution to solve it. So the average employer now has twelve different vendors solving a variety of different problems and it’s not integrated.

That’s changing though, so we’re seeing this shifting landscape, just like with the terminology, to think about how we integrate care in a more meaningful way to solve the overall needs of the member, the employee, the person that we’re concerned for because we hired them and we care about them, but we’re also concerned about their productivity and their well-being, and their family lives.

There’s a lot of noise in this marketplace, that’s changing, I think we’re seeing an incredible shifting landscape. I would say COVID has been an incredible catalyst for our industry. It’s changing the way we think about access of care. It’s changed the way we think about giving care; not just focusing on the condition, but focusing on the whole person, integrating mental health. So I think we have an incredible future ahead of all of us, as consumers of care but also as employers and those responsible for providing care to others.

STORY: So I would love to ask you, Scott, a question. As you think about the problem or lack of engagement in proactive care in the US or in your own care journey, what would be awesome to have in your own connection with the healthcare system as we move into the future?

CAWOOD: I think about my own and my family’s healthcare experiences almost like the way I think about the airline industry. We go into both of them ready for battle. We want to try to get our own seat, we want to claim the better price, we want to know someone is taking care of me and looking out for me. So those are two industries that I think could do a lot of migration towards truly understanding and listening in a way that’s meaningful to the person going through it.

They may process a lot of patients or passengers in a given day, but I’m the only me, and the further I fall down that priority list, the more it doesn’t really feel like me going through anything other than a fight, or a battle. The more I find companies that are really trying to advocate, and raise my skill level, how I can take better care of myself, through healthcare, I’m all for it and would encourage you to please keep going.

STORY: You’re spot on. If we think about healthcare or the airline industry, it's about our process – not yours. It’s about our job to move you through a system and to get paid to move you through that system. The industry forgets to focus on who you are, why you care, why you are trying to get from point a to point b and why it matters uniquely to you. 

What happens especially in healthcare is that we don’t engage in the system until it’s too late. Until we have to engage in the system, because the system’s not about us. If you look at great consumer product and service brands, the ones that win are the ones that understand you as a consumer. And our healthcare system has to start thinking of a person not as a patient, but as somebody who is consuming that product or service for a purpose. A purpose that’s unique to them. It could be “I want to be here for my family and my future.” It could be “I need to be at work tomorrow because my kids and family depend on me.” It has nothing to do with what hurts so bad; it’s something deeper that’s inside of us that would drive us to even care about proactive care.

It’s intuitive, but counterintuitive to the current healthcare system. We’re starting to focus first on the consumer’s ‘why?’ How do they receive healthcare information? How do they think about healthcare? Do they trust doctors or do they trust their best friend more? And then use that understanding of the consumer to communicate in a much more effective and relevant way not about your diabetes, but about why managing your stress can help you take better care of your family, and oh by the way, it might even help you with your diabetes that your doctor is talking about.

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